Why EMS Volunteers in Israel Never Call it Quits

It happens at least once in the career of every EMS (Emergency medical services) worker or volunteer. Someone called quits on a cardiac patient, but you know deep down that if you just keep on doing compressions, you will save that patient’s life.

United Hatzalah EMS personnel respond to a car accident.

United Hatzalah EMS personnel respond to a car accident.

For Doron Betzaleli, this situation happened at the end of December. Betzaleli, who is a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization, was driving through  Ramat Gan when he stopped to withdraw money from an ATM. He got an emergency alert from United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center informing him that a woman had lost consciousness in a nearby building.

Betzaleli, the experienced EMT that he is, immediately rushed to the scene where he found a 75-year-old woman not breathing and without a pulse. The woman was surrounded by her family members that although they were quite distressed, were relieved to see an experienced EMT arrive in less than three minutes.

Upon assessing the woman’s condition, Betzaleli called for backup and immediately began CPR. As the first responder to the scene, Betzaleli fought for her life, single-handedly providing chest compressions and assisted ventilations, for an exhaustive 13 minutes. Finally, another EMS volunteer arrived to help, giving Betzaleli a slight respite. The team continued CPR together for another seven minutes before the ambulance finally arrived. The rescue crews combined their efforts to save her, but still, the woman lay there with no signs of life.

After an additional 20 minutes of intense CPR, the ambulance paramedic instructed the teams to cease their lifesaving efforts as he didn’t think the woman had any possibility of recovering. Betzaleli felt quite strongly that there might still be a chance of survival, and so, he insisted on continuing CPR for just a bit longer. Miraculously, three minutes later, after additional intense CPR administered by Betzaleli, the woman’s pulse returned. The woman was quickly loaded onto the ambulance and rushed to the hospital under the care of the ambulance crew.

Betzaleli lives in Givat Shmuel with his wife and two children. For him, as it is for many EMS volunteers throughout Israel, saving lives is one of the most important callings that he can undertake. Eli Beer, the President and Founder of United Hatzalah spoke about how proud he is of all of the volunteers for their dedication and perseverance.

“Our volunteers come across many bleak situations. Situations in which people are at the lowest point in their lives and in need of help in the most personal and intimate way. It is our duty to our fellow men, women, children, families and communities, that we do everything that we possibly can in order to make sure that no one needs to suffer or G-d forbid die needlessly. The perseverance and tenacity shown by our medics saves lives every day. I am happy that this was an instance in which our EMTs showed the professionalism and compassion needed to save a life. It is our hope that all of those in need of emergency medical assistance receive the help they need. We, as an organization, learn from our volunteers to never call it quits when there is a possibility of helping another.”

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